Proud Muscovy Duck

Juvenile Muscovy Duck Strutting

I spotted an unusually colored Muscovy Duck on the water, but realized it was a juvenile.

Juvenile Muscovy Duck Strutting

Many of the ducks we watch have a way of rocking or strutting when they swim. Recently, I recorded a young or juvenile Muscovy Duck swimming on the water out back.

They remind me of the Pharisees and Sadducee that we read about during the time Christ was on earth and during New Testament times.

“Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,” (Acts 5:17 NKJV)

“Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.” (Luke 11:39 NKJV)

“Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” (Luke 11:43 NKJV)

Juvenile Muscovy Duck Strutting

Also, a few verses from the both testaments:

Pridegoes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV)

“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16 NKJV)

I know there are many more verses that could be added, but I am sure you can also even quote some of them. These ducks are not prideful, but the Lord had a way of putting natures in His Avian Wonders to help remind us of attitudes to avoid. Blessings!

Muscovy Ducks are part of the Anatidae Family of Ducks, Geese and Swans

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)

Sharing The Gospel

Reginald and Oliver’s Florida Parade

AMERICAN TURKEYS

Reginald, the Turkey Commander, and Oliver’s Florida Parade

by Emma Foster

That year, when Reginald, Oliver, and the other turkeys celebrated Christmas in their fortress, which protected them from hunters during the winter, lots of snow covered the ground in the woods. The turkeys grew restless having to stay inside their fortress all the time, so they went to Reginald and asked if they could go south for the winter. Oliver approved of the idea because he had heard of something called the ocean, and he believed that going south for the winter would mean they could all go to the beach.

Reginald surveyed the woods outside the fortress. He knew it would be too cold for there to be any hunters around, and enough of the snow had melted for them to be able to walk easily. So the day after Christmas, Reginald, Oliver, and the other turkeys set off in a southerly direction, their army helmets strapped to their heads.

Reginald knew that they would miss the New Year, and he wondered what they would do and where they would go when they made it South. The turkeys trudged through the snow in a line, like a parade, with Reginald in the lead. At first, Oliver stood guard at the end of the line, but he slipped so many times in the slush that Reginald had him move to the front, where he could shove Oliver back up in case he fell again.

Eventually, the weather grew a bit warmer, and the turkeys noticed less snow on the ground. The snow completely disappeared the farther they traveled. A few days after New Year’s Day, Reginald noticed a few more roads, with cars driving past, and he also noticed that many of the trees seemed smaller, with round oranges stuck to them. Reginald decided to make camp among the rows of oranges, a little way away from the road.

Turkeys in Orange Grove ©Pinterest

At first, Reginald thought that they would be found by hunters, but as cars sped by, the drivers didn’t seem to notice them. They settled comfortably in the orange grove, but Oliver pestered Reginald constantly about going to see the ocean. Finally, Reginald had had enough, and he told Oliver that he was pretty sure they were not near any ocean. Oliver, shocked and depressed at not being able to see the ocean, went off by himself, past the orange grove. While he wandered around pouting, he heard a rustling in the nearby bushes. To Oliver’s surprise, another turkey popped out of the bushes. She was taller, with shinier feathers, and she introduced herself as Ginger. She explained that she lived with a few other wild turkeys on the land, owned by a man who kept an animal sanctuary.

Oliver brought Ginger back to meet the other turkeys. Reginald felt relieved when he found out where they were because that meant that they were protected from any hunters that happened to pass by.

Turkey in Line ©Musselcoundty.org

Convinced that Ginger knew the land better than anyone, he told her about wanting to see the ocean. Ginger realized how much Oliver wanted to go, so she told Reginald that she had an idea. Ginger announced that they were going to the ocean. The turkeys formed another parade line, with Ginger at the head.

The turkeys headed down the side of the road, where people often slowed their cars down to watch them. Ginger led the turkeys across a few fields and beyond one small side road, where they did not have to worry about cars. They reached a large lake at the base of another hill.

Oliver Will Have To Wait His Turn. (Great Egret on Alligator at Gatorland)

Oliver was overjoyed! He believed they had finally made it to the ocean. He raced down to the edge of the lake and jumped on a wide log to get a better view of his surroundings. The log jumped in fright. An alligator lifted his head, knocking Oliver off his back and into the shallow water. Oliver scrambled out of the water and back to Reginald. The alligator, however, apologized, saying that his name was Sid. He invited Oliver onto his back so that he could show him around the lake.

Turkey Swimming in Lake @United Poultry

Turkey Swimming in Lake @United Poultry

The turkeys, along with Reginald and Ginger sat by the lake for the rest of the day, while Sid carefully swam around the “ocean” with Oliver on his back. Oliver waved to Reginald every now and then, while Reginald sat in the grass. The turkeys seemed very happy living down South, away from hunters. Thinking about how everyone was enjoying their expedition, Reginald decided to wait until it was warmer before heading back to their fortress.


Lee’s Addition:

“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding;” “Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble.”
(Proverbs 313, :23 NKJV)

Thanks, Emma, for another enjoyable tale from the Turkey Commander and Oliver. A photo of Oliver’s Gator Taxi was a bit hard to find, so trust this one will suffice. Just never surprised where that flock of turkeys will show up next. Keep up the good work!

Check out all of Emma’s previous stories here:

Emma’s Stories

The Wise Owl

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Snowy Egret standing with one foot forward.

While we were at Gatorland, I was watching the Snowy Egret, and was amused by his stance. I am always amazed by their yellow feet, and this tickled me. I love that the Lord used such variety in the birds when He created them.

Of course, I had to zoom in on his feet:

Snowy with his best foot forward!

I was then off to the lagoon or pond, whatever they call it, to see what the birds and gators were up to. Compared to other times, it was rather quite, except for a Great Egret strolling out from under the boardwalk:

Quieter than normal. No nesting birds.

Great Egret emerging from under the walkway.

I was sitting in a motorized unit when another Snowy Egret landed on the rail right beside me. He then proceeded to walk down the rail with those yellow feet.

On rail right beside me.

Look at that concentration!

Snowy has something in sight.

Showing off those feet. Has a good grip on the rail.

“For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?” (Psalms 56:13 NKJV)

What the Snowy had in sight was an alligator, of which he flew off to check out. By then, “feet” were fascinating me, and I was watching how well those feet stayed planted on the gator’s back as he walked up and down it.

Heading for a ride.

Landed on the other one.

Zoomed in a bit

Steady as he goes!

Well balanced!

“Unless the LORD had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (Psalms 94:17-19 NKJV)

Catching a ride.

Feet holding fast!

Feet holding fast!

“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.” (Job 23:10-11 NKJV)

I trust you have enjoyed this part of our visit to Gatorland. There are still more sights to see, so, STAY TUNED!

  1. Flamingo Filtering at Gatorland – 12/30/20
  2. Gator Tail Anyone?
  3. Our Gatorland Welcome 12-30-20

Gideon

Our Gatorland Welcome 12-30-20

Christmas Tree and Sign - Gatorland 123020 by Lee

Christmas Tree and Sign – Gatorland 123020 by Lee

When we visited Gatorland on our last trip, the end of December, we were greeted with Christmas decorations and some interesting characters (birds and other).

Vultures and Egret setting in there normal welcoming rail.

Vultures and Egret sitting on there normal welcoming rail.

Vultures Surveying a Gator near entry of Gatorland

Vultures Surveying a Gator near entry of Gatorland

Dan looking at the avian wonders.

By the way, that sign in the first photo is this warning!

Then of course, you meet one or two brave or stupid birds trying to con food from the Gators, like this Snowy Egret.

Crazy Snowy Egret at Gatorland 123020 by Lee

Crazy Snowy Egret at Gatorland 123020 by Lee

Crazy Snowy Egret at Gatorland 123020 by Lee

Crazy Snowy Egret at Gatorland 123020 by Lee

Crazy Snowy Egret at Gatorland 123020 by Lee

Crazy Snowy Egret at Gatorland 123020 by Lee

What I was not expecting, was this new “creature” found roaming around the entrance. Never seen “it” before and trust it is only a rare sighting!!

Some sort of an “Ape”, but also must be related to a “Skunk” somehow! :0)

Skunk Ape at Gatorland 123020 by Lee (16)

Skunk Ape at Gatorland by Lee

Thought he could scare me!

Skunk Ape at GatorlandYou just never know what might show up there at this wild place. Other than this “critter”, it was a great sunshiny day. Stay tuned!

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; … A time to weep, And a time to laugh;…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NKJV)

Flamingo Filtering at Gatorland – 12/30/20

Gator Tail Anyone?

Good News

Gator Tail Anyone?

Here in Florida, there are some restaurants that serve Gator Tail. Usually, it is served as an appetizer.

Gator Tail Appetizer ©Skipper Fish Camp

While we were walking around Gatorland on our last trip, I noticed some Black Vultures very near the end of an alligator. They were across the pond, so I zoomed in to see what they were doing.

I’m thinking to myself:

#1 – These birds are crazy being that close to the gator.

#2 Maybe they are picking bugs or weeds off of its tail.

Cropped after I got home.

Before I tell more, let me continue on with the rest of the visit. When we got to my favorite part where the birds ride on the alligators (See Gatorland’s Taxi Service), I was again videoing the activities. I noticed on the little island that some more Black Vultures were again at the tail of another large alligator.

Egret on Gator Taxi and Vultures at Gator’s Tail by Lee

Vulture at Gator’s Tail – Zoomed by Lee

Vulture at Gator’s Tail – Zoomed by Lee

Here is a crop of the crop. You can see him actually eating the meat right out of a living alligator. He couldn’t even wait for them to batter and fry up a piece for him.

Zoom of a zoom

I also took a video of some of this:

Now I see why Vultures are on the “Do Not Eat” list! They are a Bird of the Bible after all.

“‘These, moreover, you shall detest among the birds; they are abhorrent, not to be eaten: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard, and the kite and the falcon in its kind, every raven in its kind,” (Leviticus 11:13-15 NASB)

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Birds of the Bible

Good News Tracts – Various Topics

 

Flamingo Filtering at Gatorland – 12/30/20

Surface Filtering

Today Dan and I finally went on a short birding trip. We drove over to Orlando’s Gatorland (45 miles). I finally have something to write about besides the birds seen through our back patio door.

It was sort of quiet, as far as the number of birds, this time of year. We normally go over in late January or February. Then there are nesting birds. I never saw even one nest today. Yet, what we did see was great, as always. So, this is the first post of some of the interesting sights today.

We were watching the Flamingos, which is almost at the end or the path we take around Gatorland. What impressed me today was watching this Flamingo filtering on the surface. Here is a video of what I saw:

I didn’t know what that was actually called until I came home and looked it up. Normally, they put their necks down in the water and “filter” along the bottom. Less often they “filter” on the surface, which this Flamingo was doing today. It gives a great way to see how they are actually filtering. I was amazed just watching.

“Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. The filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae which line the mandibles, and the large rough-surfaced tongue. (Wikipedia – Filter Feeders)

“Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (KJV)  or the ERV says, “You guide the people, but you are blind! Think about a man picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that.” Matthew 23:24

Here are some more of the photos from the Flamingo pond:

A Few Other Flamingo and Gatorland Articles:

Phoenicopteridae – Flamingos

Tickle Me Tuesday’s – Flamingos

Sunday Inspiration – Flamingos and Tropicbirds

“F” is for Flamingos and Frigatebirds: “F” Birds, Part 1

Gatorland’s Taxi Service

Gatorland’s Fearless Egret

Gatorland From Dan’s Camera

Sharing The Gospel

 

That “Devil Bird” Kingfisher

Female Belted Kingfisher at 11:24 am on 11/25/20 by Lee

In my last article, Time to Get Back to Bird Blogging, I mentioned the “Devil Bird.” Or, the “now you see him, now you don’t bird.” :)

The Belted Kingfisher, our local kingfisher, has managed to slow down long enough (or I was fast enough) to get at least a few photos of him or her (I figured out as I posted this) in the past from our back door.

“The belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) is a large, conspicuous water kingfisher. All kingfishers were formerly placed in one family, Alcedinidae, but recent research suggests that this should be divided into three subfamilies.

The belted kingfisher is a stocky, medium-sized bird that measures between 28–35 cm (11–14 in) in length with a wingspan of between 48–58 cm (19–23 in). This kingfisher can weigh from 113 to 178 g (4.0 to 6.3 oz). The adult female averages slightly larger than the adult male.

Female Belted Kingfisher at 11:27 am on 11/25/20 by Lee

This species has a large head with a shaggy crest. Its long, heavy bill is black with a grey base. These features are common in many kingfisher species. This kingfisher shows reverse sexual dimorphism, with the female more brightly coloured than the male. Both sexes have a slate blue head, large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts. The back and wings are slate blue with black feather tips with little white dots. The female features a rufous band across the upper belly that extends down the flanks. Juveniles of this species are similar to adults, but both sexes feature the rufous band on the upper belly. Juvenile males will have a rufous band that is somewhat mottled while the band on females will be much thinner than that on adult females.” (Wikipedia)

Female Belted Kingfisher at 11:27 am on 11/25/20 by Lee

Just thought I would share a four minute delight of the Female Belted Kingfisher that zoomed around by the back water. These are zoomed in, and I only shoot program mode, so I am happy that I could at least figure out that this was a female.

Sort of life our lives, now we are here, and soon we are gone. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
(James 4:13-15 NKJV)

Enjoy!

Wordless Birds

Belted Kingfisher – Wikipedia

Time To Get Back To Bird Blogging

We have been occupied the last few weeks with visitors from the north, Indiana. During our Thanksgiving holiday, Dan’s sister and niece flew (drove fast) down for a few weeks. Just like migrating birds, now you see them, and then they leave.

Also, my internet was down for awhile, plus not going birding, makes for a poor excuse for not posting for awhile. Thankfully, our guest were able to see some of our local birds, while we sat at the table to eat. Here are some of the avian visitors that came to greet our guest:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, Who gives songs in the night, Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’ ” (Job 35:10-11 NKJV)

All these photos were taken through our sliding door. So, they are what they are. :) I am so thankful for every bird that comes into view, even though staying home most of the time. Stay tuned, there will be more of God’s Avian Wonders visit my view.

Oh, yes, a Belted Kingfisher was fishing, and I was telling Dan’s sister how they hover. Within about a minute or so, the Lord sent that bird back, and he hovered right in front of us. Through the window, we were able to observe his behavior. No photo, of course. That is why they are sometimes nicknamed the “Devil Bird.”

Wordless Yellow-Fronted Woodpecker

Writing the Book of Your Wonders

“I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders.” Psalms 9:1, The Message

A beautiful Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) photographed December 12, 2020 in  Greene County, Georgia. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

The joy and practice of writing about the wonders of creation is nothing new. The Bible tells us that in his four-thousand and five proverbs and songs (that’s a lot of blogging!), King Solomon “spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish.”

While I’m no Solomon, I have been journaling and blogging for several years now. I confess that I don’t journal every day, and I’ve certainly gone through some dry spells. But even if there are gaps, it has proved to be an invaluable habit. While the whole process can seem introspective, and even self-centered, I see it as a form of worship.

Nature Photography Journal ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

How often did King David refer to the natural wonders around him as he wrote Psalms in praise to the God of heaven? “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained…” A view towards the mountains of Israel caused David’s heart to leap in praise, and his pen to write poems and songs of worship.

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Psalm 45

Even the simplest blog post and photograph can glorify the Creator. Pointing out the wonders of His creation exalts our God as the creator and sustainer of all things. Recognizing and delighting in the works of His hands, rather than in some other pursuit, is giving praise where praise is due.  It is not a replacement for the lifting of hands in the congregation, but can certainly produce a fuller, more vibrant life of worship.


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Unsung Heroes

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth…” Proverbs 27:2

If you’ve walked through an eastern forest or meadow, you’re familiar with the well-known Eastern Phoebe. It flits from perch to perch snatching up moths, flies, and about anything else that zips by. And in self-recognition of its own prowess as a tyrant flycatcher, it shouts out praises to its own name – Fee-beee! Fee-beee! –  while flicking its tail up and down in a proud signal of success.

Eastern Phoebe perched in a garden. Sayornis phoebe is a North American tyrant flycatcher bird. Photographed June 17, 2020 in Walton County, Georgia USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

But how about the Phoebe of the Bible? Even the most diligent students may not know her, as she only has one mention within all sixty-six books. In Romans 16:1, the Apostle Paul writes, “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea…”

Anonymity and obscurity is typical of most unsung heroes of the faith. What is the name of the woman at the well, or the widow that gave the two mites? And what of the missionaries and martyrs throughout the centuries that gave their own lives while not desiring fame or shouting aloud their own name?

Although the Biblical Phoebe wasn’t shouting her own name like the avian Phoebe, she still had great impact. Some believe that Sister Phoebe was entrusted to hand-deliver Paul’s letter to the Romans. This epistle – quite possibly containing the greatest writings on Christian doctrine – had to be safely guarded from loss, theft and moisture on the nearly 800 mile journey from Corinth to Rome. Imagine if she had failed in her task. Would the revelation that salvation is by faith alone, and the resulting Protestant Reformation, have ever taken place? The Biblical Phoebe’s impact on Christianity receives little recognition, as is typical with most Christian servants.

Luke 17:10 “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

Yes, her name is recorded in Scripture (which is more than most receive) but even greater is the fact that her name is written in heaven. The unsung Christian heroes of this world – the pastors, missionaries, evangelists, orphanage workers, soup kitchen attendants, nursery workers, and more – all receive this wonderful privilege, even if not recognized in this life. What more could we ask for!

Luke 10:20 “…but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Hide and Seek

Have you ever shouted to God, “COME OUT, COME OUT WHEREVER YOU ARE!”?

Ezekiel 39:29  “Neither will I hide my face any more from them…”

A Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) appears to play hide-and-seek in a nest cavity. March 31, 2017; Walton County, Georgia. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

Birding can sometimes feel like a game of hide-and-seek. The birds have the “hide” part down pat! They are masters of camouflage and stealth, and seem to know the cleverest places to hide. So the birders must play the “seek” side of the game. We maximize our chances of finding particular bird species by learning where they live – their range and habitat within the range – and going where the birds are!

There are times it seems like God is playing hide-and-seek with us. Our theology says God is omnipresent, but our feelings say He has hidden Himself and is nowhere to be found.  Like Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus passed away, we blame God for being absent when crisis and need hits — “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (John 11:21).

But have you thought that maybe God isn’t hiding; and perhaps the problem is with our seeking? Jesus was quite willing to commune with those who desired His company. When two disciples asked, “Where dwellest thou?” Jesus offered the open invitation of come and see (John 1:38). Since the Bible promises us that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), perhaps our seeking isn’t as diligent as we thought.

God is not hiding. He can be seen in the design, order and complexity of nature around us… especially the birds! And just like searching for a bird in its range and habitat, we maximize our chances by seeking God in the right places. Where does God “hide”? Maybe He is “hidden” in that Bible on your bookshelf? Or perhaps He can be found in that church down the road? One thing is certain: if you are honest and diligent, He will be found!

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Update and Release of Rockefeller

In Rockefeller the Saw-Whet Owl in Christmas Tree, you were introduced to Rockefeller, the little Saw-Whet Owl that was found in the Christmas Tree.

They promised they would release him last week-end, but released the owl last Tuesday, November the 24th. Here is a video of that release.

As this little owl was given compassion, and they helped him renew his strength, so we need “renewal” from time to time.

“Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old,” (Lamentations 5:21 NASB)

“and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24 NKJV)

The Wise Owl